The place on the very top of my bucket list was The Tower of London.
I love history, reading about it and watching documentaries on it. Every time you watch something you learn something new something even more fascinating that happened in what seems like forever ago. For a few years now I have tried to learn as much as I can about the British Royal Family particularly Henry the 8th and Elizabeth Woodville. For me, they seem like forces to be reckoned with in a time where your name meant everything and our life could be ended on a whim.
So when looking for activities in London for families the Tower was on our itinerary for our trip there was no negotiating it, we were going and there was no stopping me. The only thing that worried me was the girls and if they got bored. A bored child and a huge bucket list place can be a nightmare. I stressed over it for a while and then I realised that we would just have to make it work that day, we could only do our best.
We were up early for our entry time and made our way via the tube to The Tower of London. We joined the huge line to get in and then we waited. It did not take long to get in but I used the time to look at it and reflect that I was finally here. Luckily the girls were asking lots of questions about the Kings and Queens of England and who had been there in the past. It made the time go very quickly. As we were let in we decided to go in the free Beefeater tour that was about to leave. We met them just inside the gates. The groups are quite large so getting up close to hear was a bit hard right at the start but the girls being so small wiggled their way right up to the front and gave us all the info about it that we needed. We made our way through the gates and we made our way up to Tower Green
Where did we stay in London?
We stayed at the Premier Inn Kensington South location. The hotel had family rooms that accommodated 4 people. the hotel was 5-minute walk from Earls Court train station. This station has a direct line into the city and to the airport. Breakfast is available and there are restaurants and supermarkets close by.
The Tower of London is one of the best activities in London for families
.After we had all made our way up there our Beefeater (I am so sorry I can’t remember his name) started to tell us about the history of that area and a bit about his life within the walls of The Tower of London. He straight away picked out the Americans and the Aussie in the group (Mark was wearing a green and gold hat) and we all got a good laugh from his teasing! I was surprised to learn that he lived inside the walls of the tower with his family and that this has been a tradition for many years. He was able to get considered for the position after 22 years in the Armed Forces. The stories that he told us were great to hear. I had no idea about the Yeoman Warders or how they came about. I was really interested in learning about the tradition that they held and how they would go into the future.
He then went on to tell us stories of some of the people detained in the Tower and some of the more harsh techniques of getting them to admit their crimes. As we listened we realise how hard it must have been to live back in these days. Right near where we were standing was the memorial to some of the people who have been executed on Tower Green away from prying eyes and then buried within the Chapel. He then told us about some of the nicer things that went on with coronations and the Crown Jewels. He told us the story of the Ravens and the legend behind them. I was surprised that both of the girls were loving the stories and were listening really well.
Tower of London Ticket with Crown Jewels Exhibition
Spot the ravens kept on the premises and discover the reason why they are so well cared for. Stroll across Tower Green to see where many executions took place, including those of 3 of Henry VIII’s wives. Visit the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom. Be dazzled by the 23,578 gems.
The Beefeaters make the Tower of London information and facts fun for kids
After our Beefeater had told his stories he told us that unfortunately the Chapel was shut on that day as someone was getting married in there so we were unable to go inside and with that, he left us to explore the grounds of the Tower of London. We made our way over to the Memorial where the scaffold once stood. The girls asked me about the Queen that was beheaded there and why. It took a little to explain but the harder one to explain was Margaret Pole. Both the girls thought that King Henry Vlll was pretty mean for doing that. It is a huge lesson for them and we had to cover so many different scenarios with their questions. The tower should be on any London itinerary
I was amazed at the thoughts that they had and I did struggle to answer some of the questions. From there we went down to see Traitors Gate and it was there that they found some people walking around in medieval dress. The ladies would not smile for the camera as it was ‘crass’ (more explanations there!) but the gentleman with them was quite a ladies man and had my girls laughing. As we had moved away from Traitors Gate we went back to get some more pictures and I was thinking about how many people had come through there nor knowing if they would ever leave. It was a sobering moment for me and it was hard to imagine what their families thoughts and feelings would have been having a member bought through these gates.
Visit Tower Bridge when you have finished at the Tower of London
On this tour, learn more about the colourful history of Tower Bridge and take a step back in time when visiting the Victorian engine rooms. Get to know the history of this unique landmark and feel the magic of this impressive bridge.
Tower of London tours with the Beefeaters are free
We then headed up to go into the White Tower. We first went to see the torture room that also held the ‘rack’ It is a horrible looking apparatus and I can only imagine the pain it must have inflicted. We then headed up to the museum. It was absolutely fantastic. We loved looking at all the different sized armour from back then and I could not believe some of it was made for little children. I was also surprised at King Henry’s different sized armour as he grew over the years. I loved how it was all set out covering some of the walls and then there was some in glass cabinets. As we went up onto each different floor there was more to look at and more history to learn for the girls. In one room they both had a turn of firing an arrow in a virtual reality section. They also learnt about medieval life in this part as well. They both decided that life now was so much easier than back then! This section was a great place for the girls and they both thought it was one of the best places to visit in London with kids.
From here we went and sat out on one of the benches and had a snack that I had packed. Due to a number of things we wanted to do in London and the short amount of time that we had I took some small snacks everywhere, we went so it would tie the girls over until we could find somewhere within our budget to eat. We found that it was very hard around huge tourist areas to find a reasonably priced place to eat. They had their snack and then we went in to see the crown jewels. We went from room to room with interactive information on the royal family and how some had come to power. This was really great as we got to see the Prince Of Wales being crowned at Caernarfon Castle where we had been earlier on in our trip. The girls really liked these displays as they had plenty of places to sit and watch the screens. They were also very easy for the girls to understand and follow along.
From there we went in to see the Tower of London Crown Jewels. It was hard to get a good look at them as there was a little escalator that you got on and it took you past the Tower of London Crown Jewels so you were unable to stop and get a good look. We had to go back and have another couple of looks to get a really great look. The one that I really wanted to see was Queen Victoria’s as I have heard so much about it. Everything I have read said it was small but I was still very surprised at just how small it really was. We then made our way to the exit and off to find a toilet.
London attractions for kids include seeing the crown jewels
We wandered around the grounds for a little while longer but by that stage the girls were hungry and they had had enough of our visit so we decided that we would go and find somewhere for lunch. We all decided it was one of the top London attractions for families!
Tips for visiting the Tower of London with kids:
- Take some snacks and a drink as the prices at the little canteen we saw were quite pricey and the line was very long.
- Take your time. We were pressed for time and I felt very hurried and I think I really missed quite a lot of what we could have seen.
- Go on the free Beefeater Tour and make sure you get a front spot so that you can hear what they say.
- It is pram friendly on the outside but you may need some help with the stairs inside the museum or a baby carrier in the Crown Jewels area. It will make it easier with the crowds.
I really loved my time at the Tower of London but to be honest, we hurried our visit and the kids got bored easily. I think while I did tick it off it might only be a half a ticket and I would really like to go back there again one day when the girls are older so I can spend much more time there and really get my tick!
Tower of London Hours (Winter)
1st of November to 28th of February
Tuesday – Saturday 9 am to 16.30
Sunday – Monday 10 am to 16.30
Last Admission is 16.00
Tower of London Hours (Summer):
1 st of March – 31st of October
Tuesday – Saturday 9 am to 17.30
Sunday – Monday 10 am to 17.00
Last admission 17.00